The Lion and the Big Orange Ball

While the title may seem like a great one for a children’s story, I really want to talk about something more serious and adult.  So, the adventures of Sparky and his amusing attempts to defeat inflated rubber in mortal combat will have to wait.  Instead, I’m going to discuss online banking and investing, one of the most serious and adult topics I can think of.

Currently, I have three actual bank accounts.  Two of them (checking accounts) are due to the logistics of my past – Indianapolis has eliminated Bank of America (woohoo!) and therefore there are no banks that have branches both in Indy and Boston.  When I moved to Boston, I opened my second account, but I still have the Indy one, just in case.  I think it has about $30 in it.  The final account is a savings account with ING direct.

For those of you who don’t know about ING Direct (and especially don’t have an account yet), let me give some detail.  It’s pretty awesome.  They give really good rates, probably because of lower overhead.  They have no branches – all transactions are handled online, so no locations to maintain, service people to hire, or paper transactions to record.   And if  you want to do CDs or other higher-yield savings options, they have those too.  Money is easily transferable, though sometimes the transaction does take a few days to process.  Also, if you let me refer you, I think I can get you $25 for your account, and me $10.

They have also just acquired Share Builder, which is basically an online investing platform.  So, now you can trade stocks and ETFs with them daily as well.  The associated fees are comparable to something like Scottrade, about $10 per transaction, which is twice as much as cheaper options like Zecco.  However, since I know them and they’ve proven so reliable with my money in the past, I think I might try it out.

Music tastes.

One of the things that people first learn about me is that I don’t like talking about my music tastes.  At all.  Sure, if we’re listening to a song together, I might volunteer some comment.  I might say something I like or dislike about that particular song.  But if you ask me about a particular artist; if you ask me what my favorite song or ‘type’ of music is, I won’t have an answer for you.  I truly don’t know, and will probably get annoy at you for asking.

Perhaps it goes back to my sensitive middle school days.  I still really know nothing about music.  I don’t remember artist or song names, which is probably some of my trouble with naming a favorite.  But in middle school, I felt the loss more.  I was a smart kid surrounded by smart-kid friends.  It was a shameful thing not to know something, especially about music, which was one of the few allowable areas of personal style for a kid in the Midwest.  I retain some of that shame, though the lack of knowledge doesn’t bother me so much any more.

But despite my lack of taste, or perhaps because of it, it’s easy for me to criticize the favorites of others.  It’s easy to ask to change the station or skip a song when your own preferences can’t be called into question.  However, occasionally this freedom can backfire.   For example, I would prefer not to be stabbed for stating my dislike.  Of course, in this instance there were probably other relationship issues between the stabber and her boyfriend, and my own personal lack of knowledge usually keeps me from getting into direct verbal confrontations about music.  After all, lots of people don’t like Bruce Springsteen.